Category Archives: Uncategorized

Triumphs in Life – Darby, Jennifer and the Admiral.

Derby –  Lucky Pioneer

Derby was born with deformed front legs. Angled down, Derby moved by pulling himself on his chest with his elbows and pushing himself with his back legs. Tara Anderson decided to help the dog.  She got him a two wheel cart that supported his front, and that helped a bit, but it was clumsy and his mobility was limited as was his ability to play with other dogs. So, she went in another direction – using the new 3D design and printing technology. Click on the picture for Derby Part 1.

Derby - two deformed legs

They experimented with  different approaches and were able to get some initial success. While the prosthetics were small in height and therefore more controllable attached to his elbow and upper leg, his  body still  tilted downward versus the normal horizontal. So Tara got her crew together and worked on a design that would allow Darby to have a straight back and try to find solutions to different problems. Click on the picture for Derby Part 2 .

Derby with Prosthetics

We are fortunate to live in the age we do.

 

Here is another parallel situation that involves what is inside our hearts and thinking.

“Never Say Can’t”

Jennifer Bricker – Exceptional Faith Overcomes Major Handicap and Builds an Exceptional Life

Sometimes things happen that we don’t have a choice in or want. But what we do with the hand we’re dealt can make all the difference. It takes determination and Jen Bricker as a baby. Born without legs.perseverance. The video below is about a baby girl that was born with no – zero – legs.  She was left in the hospital after birth by her natural parents because of her lack of legs and the life long challenge of trying to raise such a person. Along comes another couple who recognize the challenge and burden, but they adopt the baby and raise her like her handicap wasn’t a “problem”- like their three healthy boys. How crazy were they? They were crazy enough to think “Can’t isn’t in our vocabulary.”  Click on the picture to watch the video – it’s worthwhile.


Brickner 3

 

Life Lessons from Seal Training

The third video is a Commencement Speech by Admiral McRaven at the University of Texas in 2014. He is a Navy Seal and 4 star Admiral heading Special Forces Operations. He was head of the unit that planned and led the Osama Bin Laden operation.

These are the 10 lessons he learned in his early Seals Training Program. It’s around 19 minutes, but he has some good points that are applicable to life. Click on the picture to see the video.

McRaven (2)

Odds ‘n Ends – Comments on Life

Here are some thoughts about Life and Love.

“Love, built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies.”
– John Donne

“If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how different our ideal of beauty would be”.  -unk

“I measured love by the extent of my jealousy”
-Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

“Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!”
– Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions”
– Woody Allen

“Isn’t what we mean by ‘falling in love’ a kind of sickness and craziness, an illusion, a blindness to what the loved person is really like”
(Sigmund Freud)

“I don’t want to live, I want to love first and live incidentally”
– Zelda Fitzgerald, 1920

“In every living thing there is the desire for love”
– DH Lawrence

“You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how”
– Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Love [is] a temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder. – Ambrose Bierce

“… I used to be scared about marriage. I was like: Wow – 50 percent of all marriages … end up lasting…
for-ever.”                                                – Joe Wong, commedian

“All I’ve wished for in life is to belong, to love and be loved, without doubt, without judgement, without condition.”                                              – Grace Kelly

“… It’s a big world out there, and we’re going to play on every inch of it.”                                      – web commercial.

Do you feel it? I feel energy, I feel lightness, I feel wonder, I feel comfortable, I feel my self, I feel inspired, I feel joyful, I feel like dancing, I feel like exploring, I feel like making and building,  I feel like asking and talking, I feel playful, I feel excited with my eyes bright and wide open, I feel breathing deeply, and smelling the cool, perfumed breeze, and relishing the sun’s warmth, and I feel it all – even more – with you here.                                                                                                – Guido

Surprises of Life

Singing and Living Blindly

Got a surprise yesterday. I heard a song on the radio by Andrea Bocelli in a duet with a beautiful, clear, but unidentified,  female voice singing a classic latin love song – “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas”.  The song is about the early stage of a relationship – the singer wants the other to commit, but she wants to think about it and answers “perhaps, perhaps, perhaps”.

Mystery Singer

I was curious to find out who the female singer was and went on youtube to see if it could shed some light on her.  The first thing that came up was a segment from Dancing With The Stars with a duet between Andrea and, unexpectedly, Jennifer Lopez- and her voice matched.  During the song, the camera was close to the singers. Andrea kept his eyes closed, and I thought he must be really concentrating on his singing and feeling this song. But, it was interesting to watch the interaction of the two.  As they started to sing, Jennifer lighJaylo and Andrea (2)tly touched his chest. There was gentle touching of each other’s arms and, at times, Jennifer would softly touch his back or chest. There was delicate interaction and unusually good chemistry between the two. They sang beautifully together with Jennifer improvising and calling him “amor” (love) in her answering.

Odd Response

When the song was over, Jennifer gave him a hug with a big, sparkling smile and he smiled back, but, puzzlingly,  he didn’t open his eyes to look at the beautiful, vibrant woman embracing him.

Andrea Jaylo 2 (2) Continue reading Surprises of Life

Help build a Complaint Free World and Improve Your Happiness and Communications

“Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.”
– Lillie Tomlinlillie

          

 

Want an “easy” challenge that will improve your life and your communication?

Go 21 days without saying a complaint. You can think a complaint, but if you voice it, you re-start the 21 day clock over again.

Why 21 days? Psychologists say that it takes  21 days to form a new habit.

We usually think of ourselves as non-complainers. However, the average person complains 15 to 30 times a day without even being aware of it.

In reality, to stop complaining takes, on the average,  4 to 8 months (can you do better?) .

What is a complaint?

It is defined as the expression of grief, pain or discontent. There are times when it is appropriate to express those feelings. But, 30 times a day?

The point is to speak neutral, true facts directly and only to a person who can affect the change that you seek.

Telling your friend the soup was served cold is a complaint. The friend can’t correct that. Telling the waiter the neutral, true fact that “the soup was cold” can correct the short-coming. Saying to the waiter “How dare you bring me cold soup?” will create an entirely different interaction.

Telling your friend what terrible things your partner has done is complaining. Telling your partner how you feel and what specifically they did  that bothered you in a factual, neutral way, and what you want them to do instead in the future – isn’t complaining – it’s communicating.

Our Lives are created by our thoughts. Our words indicate what we are thinking.

You cannot complain your way to health, happiness and success.

Complaining keeps us  focused on the problem and not the solution.

Why do we complain?

People complain for several reasons including:

  • to get attention
  • avoid action
  • to pre-excuse poor performance
  • to brag
  • to control others

The mouth says what brain thinks. The brain is the manufacturer and you and your mouth are the consumer.

If  the brain is complaining, but you stop saying the complaints i.e.  the customer stops buying the product, then the Brain retools with a different product and begins to think more useful thoughts. Another sage said that our thoughts become our words. Our words become our actions. And our actions become our lives.

So, what should the goal be?

The goal is to name what it is you want in your life and focus on what is good in your life. That will draw what you want to you.

I tried the No Complaint challenge and was surprised how many months it took me to accomplish it. I also became very attuned to the amount of complaining that goes on pretty universally.

This program can not only change an individual, but it can also change a  family, a work environment and even a national environment ( the Complaint Free World people are shooting for a world environment change – talk about “going big”.).  When people don’t support complaining by not giving complainers their time and attention, then  complainers start to feel awkward and they either recognize that they are complaining, or they move out and on. Again, this isn’t not telling the truth, but it is telling the factual, neutral truth only to the person who can do something about the subject.

To learn more about the challenge, here’s the web site and the book detailing the challenge:

http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/ComplaintFreeBand

 

 

How to recover from a Breakup – for Women

“The heart will break, but broken live on”  (Lord Byron)

“Why would you ever choose to be with
someone who is not excited to be with you?” (Mark Manson)

“All farewells should be sudden, when forever.”   (Lord Byron)

Get Back to Your Wonderful Self!

I spoke with a good friend who’s going through a tough patch right now including a breakup. Breakups happen – a lot. So, this is for her and anyone else coming back and recovering from a breakup.

Never take anything personally

It’s tough breaking up – especially if it’s been a long relation, but it happens. Don Miguel Ruiz had a unique take on this in his book “The Four Agreements”. One of the Agreements is “Never take anything personally.” People work with what they were taught, and what they believe, their biases, their prior judgments. If a person says something, another person will fill in around what was said with their own assumptions. Similarly, if something wasn’t said, they will paint in around that with their assumptions. Many times people don’t understand and rather than clarify with a question, they make assumptions about what was said. They end up having this “story” about other person and the way things are, which may have nothing to do who that person really is. He says “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”  This is the same mechanism in how a person can behave terribly to a complete stranger. It isn’t personal.

“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.”

“If you live in a past dream, you don’t enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is. There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive. Not enjoying what is happening right now is living in the past and being only half alive. This leads to self pity, suffering and tears.”

“True justice is paying only once for each mistake. True injustice is paying more than once for each mistake.”

“Why being dumped by a man is good for you.”

Sarah Vine, a journalist, wrote a column “Why being dumped by a man is good for you”.  She talks about Katy Colins whose fiance abandoned her at the alter. She quotes Katy: “His decision, though devastating at the time, was the wake-up call l needed.” Sarah then states that “a very similar thing happened to me in my early 30s. Like Katy, I was deeply traumatized – but being unceremoniously dumped by the man I thought was “The One” was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was the shock I needed to make me re-examine my existence and it lead me to me meeting the man I have no doubt really will see me all the way to my grave.” After [The One] left, “I remember, like Katy, having an overwhelming desire to escape the wreckage of my life. I sold my flat, my car and changed jobs. Like Katy, I traveled, often alone, and I read books and signed up for art classes… I reconnected with neglected friends, made a few new ones, and one or two errors, too.  Most of all, I resolved never again to let my heart get the better of my brain – even if it meant spending the rest of my life alone. Better a solitary existence…than reliving all that agony.”

“It was during one of those trips that I met the real love of my life: my husband. I wasn’t looking for romance and nor was he. In fact, it was most unexpected: no one who knew us would ever have matched us… Yet from the moment we went on our first date to a restaurant- he was an hour late, but luckily I’m so greedy I waited, and besides, the waiter kept bringing me glasses of prosecco “from the gentleman who is on his way” [guys – learn from this (my comment)]- my heart and head were in agreement: this one was a keeper. ”

“Every girl should have a Katy Colins moment when they’re forced to ask themselves what they really want out of life.  Because, as she and I have discovered, you really can shape your reality – and if you get it right , it can be better than your wildest dreams. ”

The only significance anything has is what we decide to give it.

There’s another thing to think about. David Michie, in his book “Buddhism for Busy People”, reminds us that when things occur, they happen and they happen without any significance, or importance. It is we who assign them a significance, and we can choose any significance we want.  Michie wanted first to be a published author. His expectation creeped up – he wanted to be a best-selling author. When he achieved that, he wanted to be a continually best selling author. When that didn’t happen, he thought his dream had fallen apart. But he got some advice, that if he liked to write, he should continue.  He then wrote on things he was interested in without expectations, and went on to write popular books that help people.

A breakup can be thought of as a catastrophe or it can viewed as a great opportunity. A door has closed but, now we have the time to look and see that other doors are open.  To build a new house (or life) custom designed the way we want, we have to  work and prepare a new clearing for it.  Will you really miss his flat ass, or that you ended up doing all the work, or that he didn’t give the warmth, contact or communication that you like? Maybe you didn’t feel great being around that person? Maybe you “knew” (felt) it had become a mistake, but didn’t pay attention to it?

Shakespeare says it in a different way. Hamlet tells his friends that he feels Denmark is a prison, and his friends respond “we think not so, my lord”. Hamlet answers “Why then ’tis none for you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is prison. ”  How we think about things determines how we feel. You survived fine before you met this guy, so you obviously know how to survive after this guy. Now, raise your game and instead of just surviving, go for thriving  – “… live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” – Thoreau

Talk to a Trusted Friend

Friendship is really the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love”  -Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Venting is important. Talk to a friend you trust. Get it out so you’re not holding it in any further.  It does hurt, so talk about your feelings. Having support and washing out the wound will help the healing begin.

“Gotta Get Up to Get Down” – Coolio

On the practical side, there is life, and hope, and many opportunities out there – many fish in the sea! All you have to do is SHOW UP (one of the Secrets of Life). Get out of the house – alone or grab a friend.  Go somewhere you enjoy – preferably that has  music – and MOVE – dance, walk, jog, exercise, ice skate, ski, swim,  bike ride, mountain climb, kayak, sail, stretch, do yoga, volunteer to help someone who’s badly off, learn something you always wanted to do – take art, poetry, music classes, get into a play. Just do something you enjoy. I love to get some good, lively music on my phone, plug in and go walking.  I love dancing – even better with a wonderful partner. I love martial arts – the exercise, the coordination, the challenge, the movement.  I love drawing – the seeing and the wordless translation onto paper. It re-charges both my body and spirit and just feels good. Do things that feel good to you.

Another of the things you can do is to be kind to yourself.  In many ways we’re still little kids inside, still learning about life. Forgive yourself for any mistakes made.

“If your compassion does not include yourself,
it is incomplete.” – Buddha

There was one of those internet “list articles” for guys – ’25 Things to Think About before dating and Athletic Girl’ . Girls workoutIt mentioned “Those early mornings, late post-work nights and rushed gym sessions keep her feeling strong… [she doesn’t do it for you]…She’s a woman on a feel-good mission.”
Start making it your goal to be on Your “Feel-Good Mission”.

(A suggestion for when you get around to beginning a new relationship: see Some ways to know if he is a keeper)

Now, Be That Which You Want!

Anger is a great motivator. Harness it. After you get stronger and back on your feet (literally), then, see what Wayne Dyer said about –

Be That Which You Want”

Logo by Aaron James Draplin
Logo by Aaron James Draplin

Some music for your soul and “Moving On”

Here’s some “Music for Moving On” that I hope will help:

And here’s a  lively Spanish song – “You’re Not For Me”

Lyrics for “You’re not for me”

You tell me that you love me
That you can’t live without me
That you’re overwhelmed in those moments
I’m not with you
That you had always waited for me
That I was the person you dreamt about
The one that your mother wanted to be your woman

Ayyyy

That my eyes are stars
That my smile is the most beautiful
That all my attributes are perfect for him
If he were a photographer
If he were a artist
I’d be his Mona Lisa
and even a tango by Gardel
And that I don’t believe.

I want you to know
that you are not for me
That you’re not for me
I always knew
but didn’t pay attention…
Don’t even think about showing up around here
Show up around here
With your complications
and cheap stories

That you promised me the moon
That I’m like no one else
That I look like a damsel
that has to be protected
That you’ve left your vices
That his earth has elevated
That he promised the life that I deserve
And I don’t believe that.

I want you to know that I’m not for you
That I’m not for you,
I always knew it, but didn’t pay attention
That I don’t even think about starting with you again
Starting with you again
My heart can’t take more disaster

And I, who I told myself so much
that you weren’t good for me
That you were my destruction
And me always trying to leave you
Your day has arrived
Your day has arrived.

Chorus

Here’s another upbeat song entitled: “I’m Stronger Without You”

Lyrics in English:

Braggart  –   (I’m stronger without you.)

Comparsions are odious
But I’ve got a thousand reasons
To know it was a mistake

I put in the balance what I have
And I encharge myself
to sing them to you, my love.

You swore wonders to me (No, no, no)
Even to cure my ills (Yes sir)
I have asked and confessed
even prayed the rosary to
The little virgin of love

But I
Convinced myself
That it is better to be alone
than be deceived by you

I will cry
I know it’s that way
But rest assured
I’m stronger without you
I’m stronger without you

I decided to clean even the closet
Giving away the unnecessary
Beginning with your love

I tried to my soul to love you
And it turns out my luck
Has turned out to have been the best

Do not dare to reclaim me (no, no, no)
Saying that you now know how to love me (Braggart)
So many promises to the saints
As you know there were so many
But not one answered  me

For that I
Convinced myself
It is better to be alone
Than be deceived by you

I will cry
I know it’s that way
But rest assured
I’m stronger without you

So I
Convinced myself
It is better to be alone
Than be deceived by you

I will cry
I know it’s that way
But rest assured
I’m stronger without you
I’m stronger without you

If you know of any other songs that help you get through a during a breakup, please let me know and I’ll add them.

Thanks.

Dreamers of the Day are Dangerous Men.

Dream and Act.

“All men dreaTE Lawrencem, but not equally. Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible. ”  – T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia)

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly,Gladiator who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat”         – Teddy Roosevelt

Human beings are the only life form that will do less Redwoodsthan it possibly can… there has never been a tree that didn’t grow as tall as it possibly could…
– Unknown

Whatever you do, Steve Jobsor dream you can, begin it. Boldness has a genius and power and magic to it.   – Goethe

This Woman is My Destiny – Shut up and Dance with Me

She took my arm
I don’t know how it happened
We took the floor and she said
Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me
I said you’re holding back
She said shut up and dance with me
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance with me

 

Shut Up and Dance with Me – Walk the Moon

 

Dance first,
Think later.
It’s the natural order
– Samuel Becket

Dancing is a contact sport
– Nino DiGiulio – May I Have This Dance, Chicago.

Dance begins with a dancers feelings.
– Ms. Mitzi – Shall We Dance

When you get the hang of it, dancing is like the most fun thing in the world.                                                                           – Ed Sheeran, singer/guitarist/dancer

“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”
(Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)

Baila morena, baila
que tú lo bailas como ninguna
moviendo las caderas,
moviendo la cintura.
Baila Morena -Julio Iglesias

 

Dancing !

Couples’ Dancing is a wonderful pass-time.  You get to meet new people , you get to move you entire body to music, you get exercise in a enjoyable, pleasant way, you get to interact with someone else – it can be for as short as one dance, it could be an evening, or it could be an entire lifetime. You don’t know which it might be. It’s enjoyable as a couple to interact with others in a safe environment. It’s especially worthwhile if you are single.

If you look out on a typical dance floor, you will notice that there are more women than men. Women seem to be more naturally inclined to take the opportunity to express themselves and enjoy the music than guys. But guys do themselves a great disservice by thinking ” I don’t know how to do that” or by worrying “I’m going to look stupid trying” so they don’t go out on the dance floor.  I’ve been amazed by guys who aren’t good looking, or are built like Lurch from the Adams Family, who are light on their feet and have taken the time to learn how to dance, and women find it fun to dance with them.

Contemplating the idea of learning to dance generates similar feelings to those one has when thinking about starting an exercise program.  You  compare yourself to the people who have been doing it for some time – they are in incredible shape, great tone, defined muscles, trim, not fat, and endless stamina. It can be intimidating.

But remember that they didn’t start out that way. They had those  exact same feelings when they began. But they were smart enough not to care about what others might think, and they kept their eyes on the goal they had.

The other thing for guys to consider is that more guys don’t dance than do. Most women who enjoy dancing would prefer to dance with a  partner than to dance alone.  It’s nice to interact with someone and give them attention and to receive their attention. A guy who can dance is welcomed to the floor.  So, if you are a guy, it’s very worthwhile to take lessons so that you will, over time, become one of those guys who can really take a woman around the dance floor guiding her, surprising her, and making it fun for both of you.

It’s also the last remaining social activity where the guy gets to lead the woman while both partners get the opportunity to express themselves in their own style.

I think the best way to begin is to start with group lessons. They are inexpensive and you can come as a single or as a couple because there will be a bunch of singles as well as couples there too.  Either  way, you’ll get to dance with everyone else who is also just beginning. Dancing with other people, if you did bring a partner, strengthens you’re skills because people vary in their lead and response and what they  do easily and what they don’t, as well as what they know at that point. There are some women who are very light and responsive in their “follow” and, as they get better, dancing with one of them is like driving a high performance Ferrari. Others may not be as responsive, but can be real fun to dance with.  As with all things, attitude plays a large role in the interaction. And everyone  literally feels differently. I was surprised once when I put my arm around a new partner – she had a perfect back (!) and, unexpectedly, she felt exceptionally good to hold.

Also, more experienced dancers are usually very nice with beginners for several reasons. First, they remember when they started and only knew how to do just three things. Second, they know that  next year you will be a much better dancer with whom they would enjoy dancing, and that you will be more likely to dance with them if they were nice to you when you were starting out. Usually, it is acceptable to invite another’s partner to dance and it’s not a big deal.

Pattern Dancing –

In some ways, pattern dancing is a relatively simple style of dance.  It’s a set sequence of moves that is repeated through the song. So, you can have 20 couples on the floor and they all move and do the pattern simultaneously.

Some pattern dances are danced individually, like a line dance or Electric Slide or Cotton Eye Joe. Some are danced as couples. The wedding reception video below shows a pattern called the Traveling Cha-Cha to the country western song “My Maria”. There is a set sequence of four different steps- each one is repeated twice before moving on to the next step.

Each couple has customized their steps.  The best pair, IMHO, is a very large man with a petite partner. He’s surprising nimble, has a natural flow to his lead and varies up the execution. There is a couple with the woman in a long red dress and the man spins the woman  completely around him changing hands behind his back. There is another couple, the man is wearing a vertical pattern shirt, who double spins his  partner instead of a single spin and also,  instead of turning just her, sweeps both their hands over and to the outside and they both do the turns together.

I enjoy the variety of moves even within a set pattern and like to cherry-pick the more interesting moves and combine them. Picasso once said “good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

There are some country  bars, like Renegades in West Palm Beach,  that have both line dancing in the center of the floor and pair dancing with the couples circling around the outside of the floor, so you can choose to dance individually or as a couple.

Even with a set movement pattern, each couple has its own style of dancing,

Free Style Couples Dancing

Ball Room Dancing

There are a large number of styles of dancing you can choose from. Ballroom Dancing is one of the most popular and covers a variety of  dance styles – foxtrot, waltz, quick step, rumba, cha cha, tango, paso doble and others. So one can learn a wide variety of  dances and be able to dance and enjoy whatever type of music is played. It’s a bit more formal and some of the  steps get stylized, so you can show off when you like.

 West Coast Swing

One of the styles I most enjoy is West Coast Swing.  It has lively, contemporary music. Some of the outstanding couples choreograph their dance and then present it publicly, and some of it is spectacular.

Jack and Jill

Of all the competitions in West Coast, I especially like the “Jack and Jill”.  The dancers sign up individually, and one dancer is chosen randomly and then the partner is also chosen randomly.  There is no time to rehearse anything, so it is totally spontaneous, improvised and free style.

The “lead” has to have the skills to: select the step, give the signal communicating what he wants the partner to do,  anticipate the syncopation and what’s coming up in the music, and react to what his partner does. The “follow” responds in that instant to that signal, listening to what’s happening in the music and embellishes her steps with her own personality. With all the challenges, it is fun to watch, and it’s especially delightful when it all comes together. Both dancers feel the music, and he sets up the move in time so that they both “hit” the beat or freeze simultaneously on a pause, or build off a move that one of them spontaneously improvised. They also surprise each other and it’s fun to watch them laugh. Many times they’ll anticipate the lyrics and if, for example, the words say “I’m down on my knees”, as the words are sung, the dancer is literally down on his knees.

Also, watch the other competitors and their reactions to good sequences and surprise improvisations by either dancer. The women competitors focus on and support the female and the guys do the same for the male. Sometimes you’ll see both groups react to a move.  Not only are the individual moves well executed, but, as in martial arts, if you put them together a flowing sequence, the result can be exceptional.

There are a number of special moments. In the first clip below, Tatiana, at one point ducks under Ben’s arm and does a number of rhythmic head swings to either side of Ben’s arm. He responds to her lead by quickly by ducking under her arm and answers back swinging his head up and down – also in perfect timing with the music. At another time, after Ben dips her, he does a high risk move – somehow flipping her so she’s facing down and then she flips over leaning backwards again. They accomplished this difficult move pretty much keeping up with the beat. The communication was instantaneously, difficult for her to execute with minimal leverage points to make the turn, and her trust in Ben was so strong that she didn’t hesitate. If she had hesitated, she might have fallen and they wouldn’t have won first place.

Tatiana later starts a hip sway and lowering down by bending her knees. She then sets up the next sequence by bending her head back and looking  up at Ben. He sees her and supports her neck and starts her leaning backwards.  He realizes he can swing his leg over her and, without hesitation, does that. As he turns, he no longer is supporting her neck, but she anticipates this and is quick enough to use his leg for support to gently land into a neck bridge.Ben finishes the turn and lifts her back up.

Like in other sporting events, these dancers are among the best in the world and have put in the time to make it look simple and easy, so think of it as a goal. (BTW, the music is more of a merengue than a rock and roll song).

Here’s one more clip of Ben Morris and Susan Kirkland  which is an excellent example of improvisation (when was the last time you found yourself lowered flat on the dance floor, intentionally, and being asked to rise like a cobra?) –

Cumbia

Cumbia came together in coastal Columbia as a melding of native Colombians, African Slaves, and the Spanish musical and dance styles. It was introduced to me by a wonderful friend who could dance any style. It’s not common outside the Hispanic community, but can be a lot of fun with its straightforward rhythm and basic step. One of the things I realized early was that many of the moves and turns from one dance can be carried into other styles of dancing, so you keep building your capabilities as you go.

The Cumbia below was well designed and executed by Israel and Rosie. Rosie breaks out into smiles of happiness throughout the dance, particularly after they complete some challenging moves. She even claps her hands after completing a flip. Israel knows what he’s doing and is non-stop. Rosie is a great dancer, beautiful and happy, there’s a joy and exuberance to her dancing,  what’s not to like?

Merengue

There’s a whole variety of Latin dances – salsa, rumba, bachata that are fun. One that I like to play with is the merengue.  The basic step is truly simple –  step with the left foot and drag the right foot up to the left. A story I heard, which may not be true but makes perfect sense, was that it was started in Santo Domingo by a sailor who had a peg right leg. So, when he danced, he would step with his good left leg and then  draw up his peg leg to get centered and repeat his two-step.

What I like about the dance is that its fast and spirited, and it lends itself to getting into very fast spins. You have to have a good tight hold on your partners and start the turn slowly ratcheting up the speed. I take it as close to the loss of control boundary without actually crashing and burning. I find that to keep from getting dizzy, you can focus on each others eyes (there’s a lot of communication and trust going back and forth between those eyes).

You should start winding down to not overdo it and restore your ear balance and then go back into normal turns and regular movements.

Here Suavemente gives an example  of the style and rhythm of a Merengue.


Argentine Tango

The Argentine Tango may be (I think is) one of the most sensual couple’s dance. It is dynamic balance, timing , flow, contact, communication, connection and interplay,Its sensuality begins with the embrace. It can be an “open embrace” with couples separated like in a Fox Trot, or it can be a “closed” embrace. The woman can opt for the open embrace if she prefers. Each couple stands apart and leans into each other like a letter A. Both chests make full contact, but the feet have space to move. The closeness of the embrace varies. If the couple is moving in a straight line together, it’s a fully closed embrace. If turning, it opens up a bit to allow for comfortable movement. When the turn or move is done, the embrace is closed again. After being separated, it is like two magnets pulling back to each other.

Guido, a friend of mine, danced with a woman he really liked and she liked him. They felt a special embrace. He hated breaking the embrace to do  a step like an “ocho” ( a series of figure 8 steps and pivots) or a “molineta” where the woman circles around the man, or a “gancho” , or the classic step where the man pivots the woman rapidly on one foot so that the momentum of her free leg swings around and wraps around the mans leg. After the move was done, however, because of the separation,  the return was an even greater reward as the couple returned naturally back into a closed embrace.  A man in the dance group once complemented the two of them for showing how an embrace should be. Even years later, Guido says that he can remember exactly how she felt within that embrace.

In Tango, the man leads. He has to know what leg each partner is balanced on, choose the step, communicate it, monitor the surrounding traffic since couples frequently stop to do a move, and also pay attention to what the woman is doing because she may chose to  pause to do some embellishment in her move. If the woman is feeling playful, she can do a “caricia” where she slides her leg along the outside of her partners foot as she takes her step.

There are a lot of possible moves which keeps it interesting. There are paradas, where usually the lead, will extend his foot and stop the partner’s foot to change her direction, or an entrada where, as she shifts her weight moving forward onto her stepping foot, he steps into her space and pivots her as she is moving. (you have to practice that once or twice  :- )   to get the timing down).

There are three styles of Tango – the Tango, the Vals (waltz) and the Milonga. The sensual Tango is the most famous. The Vals has a waltz rhythm, and the Milonga has a spirited, upbeat rhythm and pattern and is a lot of fun.

The Tango is a very civilized dance.  Traditional dances are comprised of Tandas which are a series of three songs. In the first song, is kind of a shake-out dance where each person learns the characteristics of the other person. The second dance allows them to be on the same page. By the third dance, they now dance smoothly with each other.

To protect peoples pride, the Argentinians have a custom called the “Cabeceo” or “Mirada”. The men are on one side of the dance room and the women on the other. Instead of risking  a visible rejection by walking to the other side of the room and have the woman decline the invitation to dance and and then returning alone, the men will try to capture the eye of someone they’d like to dance with and then cock their head towards the floor or give some other signal inviting her to dance. If she accepts, she will nod and remain seated. He crosses the floor and takes her out to the dance floor.

While it’s an intimate dance, if the man misbehaves, that woman will not dance again with him and the word will get around.

Most cities have surprisingly large numbers of Tangueros. In Chicago, you can go to a different place every night of the week and dance Tango. People from all over the world dance it.  Even  smaller cities like Orlando can field several hundred dancers.

A friend of mine once went dancing Tango outdoors  in a park on a summer evening in Chicago. She was having a great time, and, in the middle of the dance, it started to rain. They continued to dance and got soaked – hair, clothes, everything. They danced on.  She described it in a dreamy tone of voice as “magical”.

Jennifer Lopez got it right in the clip below when she says (even better than Samuel Becket): “Don’t say anything… and don’t think……. don’t move…………. unless you feel it.”

Tango Griego

This  is the “Greek Tango”. Its wonderful to dance to – one of my favorites. The lyrics recount a convoluted Greek myth, of course.

There’s a wistfulness to the sound and for some reason, I shut out the outside world and focus only my partner and the music.

Here are two “reality” (non-Hollywood production and editing) films of a street dances in Buenos Aires. Focus on particularly on the first couple with the lady in the red dress. The lead displays a wide variety of moves pivoting the lady, changing directions, she executes beautiful, extended leg swings and embellishments. Both leads step into their partners space in mid-step spinning then and also sweep their partners “free”  foot. Both couples are very experienced.

In the second film below, each of the couples execute a wide variety of steps. The first couple, with the girl in the blue sweater, probably has the most expressive, sensual dance, but they are all technically very good.

Continue reading This Woman is My Destiny – Shut up and Dance with Me

Don’t ever take yourself out of the game.

“Nations go to war over women like you –
its just a form of appreciation”  –  “Strut” – Shena Easton

Strut:

“I spent half my life looking for you.” – borrowed from song “Cotton Eye Joe”

“It’s easy being with you,
sacred simplicity,
as long as we’re together,
there’s no place I’d rather be.”- Clean Bandit – “Rather Be”

Rather Be:

 

“Is there a brown eyed boy in my future?…
I will plant my heart in the garden of my dreams, and I’ll grow up where I wander wild and free..
How do you keep your feet on the ground
when you know that you were born to fly.”

Born to Fly by Danielle Bradbery:

Don’t ever take yourself out of the game.

Too often in life, in one of our least productive pastimes,  we worry about being judged by others. Am I going to measure up, be worthy, be loved? Sometimes, we fear rejection by someone who is important to us and it’s easy to think ” She’s (He’s) so _______, and I’m so _______”,  or “this position needs _______ and I’m not up to speed with that”, and conclude “this is not going to work.”

Coming from a position of fear, it’s not hard to be negative and jump to an expectation that it isn’t going to work, and in the least bad case, give up hope and expectation, and  adopt the feel of losing, – losing the energy, losing the anticipation, losing the joy and transmitting those vibes. In the worst case, it’s like pulling a plant out of the earth while it’s still alive and before it’s even resolved that it’s necessary to do it.

The major problem is that we’re not in the other person’s head and don’t know what they think, what they feel, what they’re hoping for. The other person may very well say no, but, then again, they may very well say yes. They may understand how far you have actually traveled. You don’t know what their tolerance range is. You don’t know if they think the differences and strengths you have might actually  compliment the other person or the situation.

For those reasons, never make a negative decision for another person when it concerns you. Make your own decision from your point of view based on what you want, Be positive. Be expectant. Then, let the other person make their decision. They’re a big person and can do that for themselves, and you want them to choose freely.

If you don’t act on what you want, you take yourself out of the game.  –  Jennice Vilhauer

So, never make a negative decision in life for someone else -Especially, if it is something that is really important to you and that you really want to go forward. You can control half of the equation. Make your decision the way you want it to be. Let them make the other half of the decision. If you want to be in the game, decide to be in the game, take action and play it hard. If it works, Great! If it doesn’t, stand up, dust yourself off, and  change your focus. You will see those open doors that are now available to you – but Never take yourself out of the game.

Happy Birthday Song – Mexican Style

In Mexico, they sing a different birthday song than our “Happy Birthday to you”. The song is called “Las Mañanitas” about the morning (mañana) songs and celebrating the day of the Saint for which they have been named.

For those of you born in this month, imagine yourself awaking to a cheerful, lively mariachi band with a dozen singers and players  in their dark black outfits with their beautiful embroidery, sparkling silver trim, large sombreros and trumpets and big, bass guitars playing outside your window on a beautiful, sunny morning – just to wish you sincerely a Happy Birthday – pa tí.

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Las Mañanitas – 151020

Wayne Dyer – Be that which you want.

Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer,  when asked about relationships, said:

Whatever it is that I want from a relationship, I would say, “Be that.”  If what you are looking for in a relationship with another person is an exquisite sense of love, then be that.

I have often said, “You do not attract into your life what you want. You attract what you are.” If you are coming from a complete state of loving everything and everyone you encounter, you will find people showing up in your life who will want to relate to you in a closer way.

In dating and in romantic relationships, get your ego out of the way, stop thinking about what is in it for you, stop thinking about how much is coming your way or what is missing from you, and simply say, “How can I make this person’s life as glorious as can be?” This means constantly being in a state of kindness and doing kind things. When you have a choice, always pick kind. Do deliberate loving, kind things continuously. Everybody loves to feel loved that way.

[About first dates] Don’t talk about yourself. Be as inquisitive about the other person as you possibly can. Be as thoughtful and kind as you know how to be. Give them a gift. Catch them doing things right, rather than doing things wrong. It is great parenting advice and it is also great dating advice. Look at the person and see no flaws. See them as perfect, divine creations and treat them that way. The same way you would treat a beautiful tree, or an animal or a sunset. Appreciate them for what they are and ask nothing in return.

[On whether to “stay or go”] I would just say, “Trust your heart.” Staying or going is not relevant, but your heart will tell you exactly what to do. Listen to your heart. Listen to the most inner peaceful voice in you. Whether it says, “This is a place I want to get away from, or someone I want to stay closer to,” you will never be disappointed.

[On how people can value themselves more]

All you have is yourself. That is all you have in this whole universe. When your eyes are closed and when you die, the whole universe disappears. All you have is how you process this world. That inner part of you that is processing this world that is your highest self. That is the part of you that you have to treasure. You have to go through life reminding yourself how incredibly valuable and important and terrific you are. Then you will never have a question about relationships again. There will be so many people wanting to be in your life.

– From an Interview with E Harmony

 

What’s a Trillion of anything?

Most people aren’t math fans. But orders of magnitude are important. House Minority Leader Everett Dirksen back in 1969 said that ” A billion here and a billion there,  pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” The Federal Budget then was $867 Billion.

Today, with the overview of both parties, the annual U.S. Budget is $3.24 Trillion with revenues of $2.8 Trillion. The shortfall is borrowed from other countries and individuals. The total US Debt of these shortfalls has risen currently $18 Trillion.

So, what really is a trillion of anything? It’s just the next number after Billion. Right?

Let’s count a Trillion seconds and then put it in perspective:

There are 86,400 seconds in a day.  That seems to be a lot of seconds.

In a week, there are 604,800 seconds – say 600,000 seconds

A million seconds is 1.65 weeks.

A billion seconds is 32 years. (That’s quite a jump between the two.)

A trillion seconds is 31,797 years. (Now that is a real jump!)

18 Trillion seconds is 572,344 years.

For perspective:

Christ was born 2,015 years ago.

Woolly  Mammoths died out 4,000 years ago.

The first pyramids were built 5,200 years ago.

The first cities were built 7,000 years ago

The last major Ice Age carved out the Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes 20,000 years ago.

Humans migrated into the Americas 30,000 years ago

Neanderthals died out 41,000 years ago

Homosapiens left Africa 60,000 years ago

Homosapiens developed in Africa 200,000 years ago

Neanderthals appeared 350,000 years ago.

18 trillion seconds would carry you 2,000 centuries earlier than the beginning of the Neanderthals who existed 1,500 centuries before homosapiens appeared.

So, then, what is the difference between a billion and 18 trillion in seconds? It’s the difference between 32 years and 572,000 years. The order of magnitude change, to me, seems a bit staggering for a slight syllable difference.